Bronco Profiles

Return of the ring, all hands on deck! Bold, profane, and utterly outrageous. Why own when you can rent? Rockin’ Sista-B

Bronco Profiles
Reunited: Lourdeaux and the ring / Photo: Charles Barry

Return of the ring

A London police sting yields a long-lost treasure

For years, Mike Lourdeaux ’88, MBA ’03 was convinced that he had his class ring safely tucked away—“in a box in a box in a box somewhere,” he said. In fact, it seems he lost it two decades ago, during his postgraduation summer backpacking trip through Europe. How do we know? Last spring the ring was found—in London—on the finger of a suspect arrested in a police sting that broke up a Romanian crime ring. The SCU class ring, it appears, was part of the suspect’s disguise.“He was trying to use the goodwill of Santa Clara University to his advantage,” said Lourdeaux. “It backfired on him.”

Lourdeaux recounted the story as told to him by Detective Constable Simon Paul Nation of the London Metropolitan Police. When police arrested the man, his demeanor and diction didn’t jib with someone who had in fact attended an American university. So the ring became evidence in the case.

When that evidence was no longer needed, the detective contacted SCU to return the ring to rightful owner. The inscription was difficult to read, but thanks to Nation’s efforts and some additional detective work by the Alumni Office, the case of the missing ring was closed.

Lourdeaux, who lives in Los Altos, was thrilled to come down to campus for the occasion—even though he opened the evidence bag to discover his ring no longer fit. Somewhere along the line, it had been resized to fit a bigger finger.


All hands on deck!

Courtesy Heidi LeuppFar from our bay or Pacific shores, you’ll find this boat christened Santa Clara berthed in Connecticut. The crew for the day, from left: Lulu McPhee ’86, Max McPhee, Andrew McPhee, Madeline Leupp, Jay Leupp ’85, Christina Leupp, John McPhee ’85, Robert Leupp, Anna McPhee, Heidi Leupp ’84, and Kate Kevorkian ’12.

Bold, profane, and utterly outrageous

B.T. Collins ’70, J.D. ’73 comes to life in a new biography

His idea: Collins asked to have a latrine dedicated to him on campus—with an inscription law students will appreciate: “If it’s not in Gilbert’s it’s not in common law.”

Whether it was during his years in Vietnam, at Santa Clara, or in politics, B.T. Collins J.D. ’73 left an indelible mark wherever he went. From Wall Street Journal contributing editor Mark Helprin he even elicited the query, “Are you sure you’re not the reincarnation of Theodore Roosevelt or George Patton?”

Readers of Outrageous Hero: The B.T. Collins Story (Bryce Hill Publishing, 2008, $29.95) can answer that question for themselves. Written by big sis Maureen Collins Baker, this biography covers Collins’ early years in New York, his service as a Green Beret captain in Vietnam, his time in public service, and his “love and affection for everything that embodies the selflessness and generosity that is Santa Clara University.”

While serving in Vietnam in 1967, Collins lost a hand and a leg to a grenade attack. He retooled his limbs with a hook and a peg leg, completed a B.A. at Santa Clara, then applied to study law here as well. But his application was rejected. Naturally, Collins didn’t take no for an answer, and Associate Professor of History George Giacomini appealed to the admissions committee on his behalf. This 29-year-old amputee might not fit the typical academic profile, Giacomini acknowledged, but he certainly had what it took to make it in law school.

Indeed, Collins soon became president of the student bar association—running with the slogan “Let’s have more beer parties and put a little fun in our lives!” He went on to serve as graduation commencement speaker and was honored with the Outstanding Graduate Award.

He practiced law and in 1979 was appointed director of the California Conservation Corps by California Gov. Jerry Brown. He transformed the organization into a valuable work development program with the motto “Hard work, low pay, miserable conditions.”

Brown saw Collins was a man who could get things done. So he appointed Collins his chief of staff in 1981. Gov. Pete Wilson later appointed him director of the California Youth Authority. And in 1991, Collins was elected to the California State Assembly. But the grueling campaign took its toll on his health; he suffered from anemia, diabetes, a bleeding ulcer, and hernia. Experiencing severe chest pains, he was admitted to Walter Reed hospital in November 1992. He died the following March. He was 52 years old.

Bold, profane, and outrageous, Collins impressed many as being, in the words of one SCU professor, a “giant breath of fresh air in a bullshit world.” Indeed, when the University offered to dedicate an office in his name, Colllins instead requested the dedication of the B.T. Collins Memorial Latrine, with an inscription to be engraved above a urinal. The words speak to law students who have spent countless hours with a well-known textbook: “If it’s not in Gilbert’s it’s not in common law. B.T. Collins, 1973.”


Why own when you can rent?

A new twist to the textbook market


Renter’s market: Tikiman and Barceloux Photo: Charles Barry

You know the drill: You take organic chemistry, you buy the textbook, you ace the final (natch), and then you try to sell Pushing Electrons back to the bookstore.That process got Colin Barceloux ’03 thinking. The sell-back is really the rental, he decided. Which made him ask, Why buy in the first place? His answer: He founded, which stakes a claim as being the first online book rental service. The company was launched in 2006 with startup funds that Barceloux raised, in part, by selling old textbooks online.

Armed with his idea, Barceloux turned to Santa Clara’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) for advice during the startup stage, and he set up headquarters in San Jose. The company mascot, the whimsical Tikiman, walks users through the four-step process: choose, rent, learn, return. Rental terms can be for one to four months—catering to a whole range of college courses. Return shipping is free. And, naturally, for the last-minute textbook renter, overnight shipping is available. (Though that’s not free.)

Barceloux touts the affordability of textbook rental; he says students save up to 75 percent off retail price. That’s not small change when you consider that students in universities across the country easily spend $600 or $1,200 or more on textbooks a year. Barceloux also notes that renting a book four or five times means felling fewer trees for virgin paper. “I won’t be satisfied until everyone can rent a book,” he says.


Rockin Sista-B

She’s Rebecca Shinas M.A. ’03—better known as the MySpace Nun


“B IS FOR BECKY!!!” live. love. laugh. Photo: John Lee

A pastel pink MySpace page may not be the most traditional place to find a spiritual mentor. But that’s where you’ll catch Sister Rebecca Shinas, better known virtually as “the MySpace nun” or by her online handle, “Rockin Sista-B.”Shinas has brought the sacred into what some would call the profane arena of MySpace, using all the tools native to the medium. Instead of shout-outs to one of her 150-plus friends or favorite bands, her blinking banners praise Jesus as the rock in her roll. Her smiling mood icon frequently reads “grateful.” Her bio gives a nod to her fellow Netizens: “I sure do enjoy all of your myspaces, you have such great songs, pics and flics.” And her YouTube links showcase her energetic musical talents.

The 2003 alumna of the Pastoral Ministries program was drawn to MySpace with the goal of meeting young people where they gather, and walking (or posting) among them to offer support, understanding, and prayers.

“It’s a new challenge, how to be available,” Shinas says.

She’s quick to note that she’s not online to try to steer students to a spiritual vocation, only to be a friend and a welcoming presence. “I feel a strong call to mentor the next generation,” she says. “They are ahead of us, not following us.”

In her 28 years with the Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose, Shinas has taught at schools all over the state; she currently works at St. Simon Catholic Church in Los Altos with people of all ages. In addition to leading adult spiritual foundation classes, women’s discussion groups, and hosting Saturday morning “spirituality and bagels with Sr. Becky,” Shinas shares her songs with the parish at rock ’n’ roll-inspired Masses—and with the rest of the world on iTunes. Guitar, piano, flute, and violin complement her strong ’70s-rock contralto vocals, and her original compositions celebrate not just God by name, but God in all things: from fellow human beings to the Ocean Mother.

SCU’s program emphasis in spirituality, she says, was ideal for her. The feeling she got when stepping on campus for the first time was uplifting and transformative. “The veil is very thin between here and heaven,” she says. It’s a feature the Mission campus shares with some of her favorite natural places, like California’s breezy beaches and her native Southwestern vistas.

“I even love the word spirituality,” she says, seeing it as a broad, all-encompassing way to help people look into their lives and discover, as she puts it, “how do you ‘do’ God in the world?”

While MySpace may be the medium of choice now, she’s already preparing for the next challenge: spiritual support via text message. Meanwhile, out in the physical world, Shinas is a familiar presence on the bike lanes of Los Altos. And she looks forward to cruising into the years yet to come.

“I can be more consciously alive, experience all the grace in the world, really stay on board,” she gushes. “I’ll be the old lady on the three-wheeled bicycle going down Grant Road and loving every minute!”

—Sarah Stanek

Kind of a Big Dill

This pickleball prodigy’s journey from finance to the courts is a power play.

New Tech, New Storytelling Tricks

In his latest book, educator Michael Hernandez ’93 explores alternative ways to teach by embracing digital storytelling.

From the Law to the Page

S. Isabel Choi J.D. ’02 planned on becoming a judge. Now she’s an author with a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.